Having two or more drinks each day could bring significant damage to the hearts of elderly people, a research has warned.
Among men, heavy drinking, which is considered when drinking more than 14 alcoholic beverages each week, was found to be connected with the enlargement of the left ventricular mass, which is the wall of the heart’s most important pumping chamber.
The research was published in the Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, which is an American Heart Association’s journal.
According to Scott Solomon, professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, women seem more exposed than men to the cardiotoxic consequences of alcohol which could potentially contribute to an increased risk of cardiomyopathy. The findings are valid for any given level of alcohol intake, the scientists added.
Cardiomyopathy is when the heart muscle becomes thicker, larger, and more rigid or is almost completely replaced by scar tissue. The research analyzed weekly alcohol consumption in almost 4,500 people, with an average age 76, by comparing it to the structure, size, and motion of different parts of the heart. The study revealed that the more people drank, the more severe are the changes to the heart’s function, but also to its structure.
Moderate drinking is generally considered to be two drinks a day – no matter if it is wine, beer or liquor – for men while for women, the level is set at one drink a day.
“In spite of potential benefits of low alcohol intake, our findings highlight the possible hazards to cardiac function by increased amounts of alcohol consumption in the elderly, particularly among women. This reinforces the US recommendations stating that those who drink should do so with moderation,” explained Alexandra Goncalves, post-doctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The American Heart Association recommendation and the 2010 United States dietary guidelines advise limiting alcohol consumption to up to one drink each day for women and no more than two for men.
Previous studies have revealed that light to moderate alcohol intake may guard the heart against some cardiovascular disease, but the effects of heavy drinking have been found to be in connection with a higher risk for cardiomyopathy.
The authors say the study’s observational design, which was not meant to establish a cause and effect link between alcohol and cardiac alterations, and its findings might not be valid for younger and nonwhite populations.
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